By Pranav Vaid
Recently, someone told me that there are two main types of fun in our lives: Type I and Type II. Type I fun is probably the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of “fun” — things like playing video games or talking with friends, which are fun and amazing in the moment. Type II fun is something that everyone experiences, but not a lot of people think about — it’s the things that feel miserable or uncomfortable in the moment, but fun in retrospect. Things like running a marathon, going hiking, playing a game of truth-or-dare with slightly-too-extreme dares and having your friends play a prank on you are Type II fun.
Ever since I discovered these variants of fun, I couldn’t help but categorize everything I did into them, especially my experiences during SPOT and NSO. And interestingly, I’ve noticed that the quality of my friendships with people are very heavily correlated with the type of fun I can have with them. I can have Type I fun with almost anyone — from a person I’ve just met at a party to the neighbor I’ve known for almost a decade. On the other hand, Type II fun is something that I can do with close friends only. I’m not going to climb a mountain out of the blue with someone I met just a few hours ago, but if my friends ask me to go, then I’m all game. It’s partially a trust exercise — having enough trust in each other that we can be miserable together for a while in exchange for great, fun memory later on. And perhaps that’s why it’s so hard to have Type II fun with people I don’t know — the trust to have Type II fun just hasn’t been established yet.
Because of this, most of my SPOT and NSO experiences were filled with Type I fun: doing things that were fun at the time with the people I was with at the time. But I did try something new, something that made me uncomfortable: I asked people I knew for only a few days to have Type II fun with me. It was a risk, something that I definitely would have never even imagined doing during high school. But, after moving to Stanford, I knew no one and nothing. If doing things with people I trust can lead to Type II fun, why can’t doing Type II fun lead to me making trust-filled friendships with the people around me?
During SPOT, I did one of the most extreme experiences of Type II fun I’ve ever had: I climbed a 2000-foot cinder-cone volcano at four in the morning during a lightning storm, with people in my group. During NSO, I discovered a 0.3-mile tunnel in Lake Lag — supposedly built for salamanders — leading to who knows where. And instead of leaving it behind as a mystery, I crawled through the whole thing (spiders, dark twists, mouses and all) with some people in my dorm.
None of it was fun in the moment: climbing the volcano soaked each of my five layers of clothing fully and left my legs extremely sore, and the tunnels were frankly quite dark and terrifying. But it worked. I’ve developed friendships faster than I could have ever believed, through the power of Type II fun. The people I climbed that volcano with are scattered across campus, but we still meet up regularly to reminisce about our miserable time together that night and to make new memories here on campus. Surviving the Lake Lag tunnel together has made me so much closer to the people on the same floor of my dorm and has honestly allowed me to open up to them about topics I never thought I’d ever tell people who, only a week ago, hardly even knew where I was from.
It’s important to have fun in life, especially Type I fun. But every once in a while, I recommend trying to go outside your comfort zone with people you’ve met or people you want to get to know and have some Type II fun — you may end up becoming much closer to them than you’d ever expect!
Contact Pranav Vaid at pvaid ‘at’ stanford.edu.